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13 March 2021

Queen And David Bowie Recorded Cream Covers When Working Together

Bohemian Rhapsody
MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo
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A new interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor has revealed the existence of recordings of Cream covers by Queen and David Bowie when they worked together in 1981.

Speaking in the new Queen special of Record Collector Presents Roger Taylor said that during the sessions for Under Pressure, the band and David Bowie also recorded some covers of songs by the classic rock trio, Cream – made up of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

“If we look to the archives, yeah, there’s probably stuff,” says Taylor. “We would do the odd thing like covering old Cream songs. I remember we did NSU and I Feel Free, just for a laugh really, and then we decided, ‘Let’s write one for ourselves.’”

The interview, however, makes no mention of whether the recordings will ever be issued in the future, or if they are even in a usable state.

Both Queen and David Bowie were fans of the 1966 Cream hit I Feel Free, with Smile, the band Queen performed as before Freddie Mercury joined them, previously covering it, while Bowie would include the smash song in encores when performing gigs in the early 70s. It would also appear on his 1993 album, Black Tie, White Noise.

Queen were recording their next record in Switzerland during the summer of 1981, when Bowie came to visit them. While hanging out they began to perform some songs, “all sorts of old songs…whatever came into our head”, according to Roger Taylor.

Their jam session would of course create the No 1 hit Under Pressure, which was released in October 1981. It would be the band’s second No 1, following on from Bohemian Rhapsody.

Queen unearthed an instrumental then-titled Feel Like and with Bowie trying ideas out on the piano Under Pressure took shape. “That became very much the priority,” Brian May told Record Collector Presents… “So there are only little sketches apart from that.”

While Under Pressure would go on to be a staple of Queen’s setlists, Bowie did not perform it live until the 1992 memorial concert for Mercury, as a duet with Annie Lennox and the surviving members of Queen.

You can order Record Collector Presents…Queen here, or find it in shops now.

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